As the most successful club in the history of Mexican soccer, Club América are used to success. But the CONCACAF Champions League final is rare air, even for them.
So when the two-leg regional championship against the Montreal Impact kicks off on Wednesday (9 pm ET, FOX Sports 2, UniMás, TVA Sports in Canada, match preview), it will be a chance for América to win their sixth continental title.
But it will also be their best chance in years to return to the FIFA Club World Cup, where they finished fourth in 2006.
“We have the opportunity to transcend on the international stage not only by winning, of course, in CONCACAF, but also by being part of the Club World Cup, and that motivates us a great deal,” club president Ricardo Peláez told reporters at the club’s training session on Tuesday. “We want to see what it's like to be part of a Club World Cup and rub shoulders with extraordinary teams. So it would be marvelous. But there are two games to be played before that … on the field, we have to run, fight and work hard, because it's not going to be easy.”
In Liga MX play, Club América have slipped into a fourth-place logjam and have not yet clinched a spot in the Clausura postseason. Montreal have struggled even more domestically, going 0-2-2 in their first four MLS games to start the season, but Peláez knows the Impact have saved something extra for Champions League play.
“The fact that they’re in the bottom places in their league doesn’t mean much, because they’re in a final in a CONCACAF tournament,” Peláez said. “We’ve seen them play, and we’ve seen the videos. They have good technical players with speed and physical strength. I think they’re a good soccer team, and there’s a reason they’ve reached this stage, so they deserve our respect.”
Likewise, América are much tougher than their 4-0 defeat last weekend against Querétaro indicates. So even with a league match scheduled for Sunday against first-place rivals Chivas Guadalajara, Peláez remains confident in his club’s ability to bounce back.
“I think that you have to reinvent yourself every day and know how to get up from a loss,” Peláez said. “On a personal level and as a group – and that’s why we work together with the coaching staff as a group – we’ve totally recovered from the last match, which was unfortunate.
We have high hopes tomorrow to play a great game and recover the confidence in a final and take an important step and give the fans something to be happy about, which is important.”